Advocacy Monthly: December 2018

December 2018

Government Report Emphasizes Price Transparency, Access to Medicare Claims Data
A joint report from the Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS), Treasury, and Labor describes a number of proposals to increase consumer choices and promote competition in health care markets. The report includes a section highlighting the importance of price transparency and access to Medicare claims data—two major STS advocacy priorities. It notes how price transparency can help providers, payers, and consumers make more informed health care choices, while claims data “can fuel insightful comparisons of long-term patient outcomes using different treatment options.” STS will continue its efforts to persuade the Administration and Congress that price transparency and access to Medicare claims data will benefit patient care.

STS and ELSO Apply for New ECMO Codes
STS and the Extracorporeal Life Support Organization have submitted an application requesting corrections to ICD-10-PCS codes for extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) in 2020. The organizations are working to minimize the damage from changes that could reduce hospital reimbursement for ECMO by up to 80% in 2019. The Society also has requested a meeting with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to discuss this issue.

Register for STS Coding Workshop and Annual Meeting
ECMO coding changes will be among the hot topics discussed at the STS Coding Workshop, taking place January 25-26 in San Diego. This 2-day event will cover new and revised codes specific to cardiothoracic surgery, with concentrations in adult cardiac surgery, congenital heart surgery, general thoracic surgery, and vascular surgery. The program also will feature a special session on the physician’s role in documentation and reimbursement. Register today.
Make the most of your time in San Diego by also attending the STS 55th Annual Meeting, which will be held January 27-29, immediately after the Coding Workshop. You won’t want to miss two important advocacy sessions:

  • Key Contacts: Advocates for Cardiothoracic Surgery (Sunday, January 27)—Experienced Key Contacts will share their perspectives from the front lines of STS advocacy, as well as role-play a meeting with a member of Congress—showing how to make things go well and explaining what to do if they don’t.
  • Health Policy Forum (Tuesday, January 29)—This session will explain what you are required to report for the Merit-Based Incentive Payment System and how you can achieve maximum scores. In addition, Alternative Payment Models and bundled payments for coronary artery bypass grafting surgery will be reviewed.

View the Program, Registration, and Housing brochure for more information on these and other educational sessions. Annual Meeting registration is separate from Coding Workshop registration.

Please note: You must reserve your housing for either meeting by January 3, 2019, to receive discounted room rates.

EHR Report Released
HHS has published a report outlining strategies for reducing the regulatory and administrative burdens associated with electronic health records (EHRs). Major goals include minimizing the time and effort required to enter data during care delivery, as well as improving the functionality and usability of all EHRs. STS is working with a coalition of clinician-led clinical data registries to send joint comments on the report.

Provide Feedback on Prior Authorization
Insurance companies increasingly are requiring prior authorization for certain procedures, creating significant barriers for patients to receive medically necessary care. Several medical specialty societies, including STS, are working to change this practice. To gather data that the societies can use in advocacy efforts, the American Association of Neurological Surgeons has created a survey on the burdens associated with prior authorization. If you’d like to share how you and your patients have been affected, please complete the survey today. It should take about 10 minutes.

From left: Ravi Thiagarajan, MD, MPH, Rep. Joe Kennedy III, STS Past President John E. Mayer Jr., MD, and Catherine K. Allen, MD at Boston Children's Hospital

Key Contact Connect: Rep. Kennedy Visits Boston Children’s Hospital
Site visits are a great way to provide your legislators with firsthand knowledge about the challenges you face delivering high-quality patient care. Once scrubbed in, it’s impossible to ignore your message. STS Past President John E. Mayer Jr., MD recently invited Rep. Joe Kennedy III (D-MA) to Boston Children’s Hospital. They toured the cardiac intensive care unit and catheter labs, as well as viewed a pediatric open heart surgery.

“Rep. Kennedy was intellectually engaged and was very receptive to our ideas. We touched on ECMO reimbursement, prior approvals, and access to Medicare claims data,” Dr. Mayer said. “I think he heard us and, more importantly, I think he heard that we want to be part of the solution for the American health care system’s cost problem.”

Questions? Want to get involved in advocacy?
Contact the STS Government Relations office via email or at 202-787-1230.

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